Southwest's 'Story' Campaign Optimizes Targeting Strategies

Southwest Airlines’ Transfarency — Amobee 

The Challenge

Southwest Airlines originally coined “Transfarency” as a catch-all to describe its philosophy of treating customers honestly and fairly. Last year, Southwest wanted to execute a media campaign to support its “Transfarency” messaging, which encourages travelers to take advantage of low prices without any catches. By effectively engaging travelers with relevant and targeted messaging, Southwest wanted to drive brand awareness and reach the right customers on the right device. 

The Execution

Since travelers are often on the go and on multiple devices, the “Behind Every Seat Is a Story” campaign capitalized on an integrated media strategy across screens, utilizing mobile, TV, social and digital avenues to reach customers. To optimize in real time, different KPIs were identified and achieved based on specific audience segments. Video completion rates were included to ensure engagement and interaction with the brand, while frequency was monitored across mobile and social to ensure messages resonated with audiences. 

By utilizing Amobee’s proprietary Brand Intelligence technology, which monitors more than 60 billion digital content engagements per day from the web, social, mobile and video, Southwest was able to develop optimal targeting strategies. Brand Intelligence created definitions of the Southwest audience and translated this into trackable and relevant placements. 

Consumption was also monitored daily, using topics including discounts, flights, hotels and destinations. Amobee capitalized on these trending travel interests to drive relevant engagement with deal-seeking audiences, ultimately driving performance in market. 

To generate buzz, they conducted scavenger hunts in 10 cities. Winners got a free airline trip.

The videos show the back stories of each traveler before they are onboard. A brand logo with the person’s seat assignment hovers nearby. Among other scenes, viewers see a couple going somewhere to adopt a child and a son breaking his mother out of a nursing home. All 175 stories live on a website. The hashtag #175stories is used on social media. The specific number refers to the number of seats on Southwest’s new Boeing 737 Max 8.

The Results

  • 1.6 billion total impressions, a 63% increase of digital impressions compared to last year.
  • Messaging increased ad recall, purchase intent, and association with Transfarency, driving 7.3 million trackable shopping visits. 
  • Using creative and engaging video, a 98% Video Completion Rate was achieved using Full Episode Player Video, exceeding all campaign benchmarks.

Key Takeaways

  • Use emotional appeal to reach air travelers with a customer-focused approach.
  • Employ different KPIs for specific audience segments, recognizing their differing media usage and response as well as different marketing goals.
  • Show a brand’s sensitive side in understanding the difficulties inherent in air travel.
  • Be aware of the importance of authenticity to connect with younger demographics, who demand it.

This campaign won a MediaPost OMMA Award in 2018.

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